Sunday, April 22


Frank Rich reflects on Bush administration-related scandals (Alberto Gonzales, Paul Wolfowitz, Bernie Kerik, et al) and concludes that they are part of the same mosaic that has led to the debacle in Iraq:

What’s being lost in the Beltway uproar is the extent to which the lying, cronyism and arrogance showcased by the current scandals are of a piece with the lying, cronyism and arrogance that led to all the military funerals that Mr. Bush dares not attend. Having slept through the fraudulent selling of the war, Washington is still having trouble confronting the big picture of the Bush White House. Its dense web of deceit is the deliberate product of its amoral culture, not a haphazard potpourri of individual blunders.
Had Iraqi reconstruction, like the training of Iraqi police, not been betrayed by politics and cronyism, the Iraq story might have a different ending. But maybe not all that different. The cancer on the Bush White House connects and contaminates all its organs. It’s no surprise that one United States attorney fired without plausible cause by the Gonzales Justice Department, Carol Lam, was in hot pursuit of defense contractors with administration connections. Or that another crony brought by Mr. Wolfowitz to the World Bank was caught asking the Air Force secretary to secure a job for her brother at a defense contractor while she was overseeing aspects of the Air Force budget at the White House. A government with values this sleazy couldn’t possibly win a war.

Like the C.I.A. leak case, each new scandal is filling in a different piece of the elaborate White House scheme to cover up the lies that took us into Iraq and the failures that keep us mired there. As the cover-up unravels and Congress steps up its confrontation over the war’s endgame, our desperate president is reverting to his old fear-mongering habit of invoking 9/11 incessantly in every speech. The more we learn, the more it’s clear that he’s the one with reason to be afraid.

I don't expect the White House to be bipartisan. But I do expect it to seek to promote the best interests of the nation rather than the personal interests of its cronies. They're paid to do just that. The evil triumvirate of Bush-Cheney-Rove has corrupted almost everything and everyone it touches.

Rich is right in pointing out that the media still doesn't know how to confront or address the administration's record of lies and deceit. I would suggest that it's largely because they're unable to face their own complicity in the situation the nation now faces. Their active cheerleading for the administration and the war, their cozy, insider relationships with Republican power brokers, and their awe of their corporate masters didn't start with 9/11. They actively despised and challenged the Clintons and Gores at every opportunity. I don't care if a sizable majority of the so-called mainstream media acknowledge, as individuals, positions that classify them as "liberals." They are not politicians pursuing those policies; they are employees, people trying to make a lucrative living, and that living depends to a great extent on their access to power. With a few exceptions, the so-called "liberal media" have sold themselves and their "liberal" souls for a fat paycheck and the chance to rub shoulders with the powerful. And that, by definition, is prostitution.

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On This Week just now, Newt Gingrich compared the U.S. military involvement in Iraq to that in South Korea. He stated that our work in South Korea, starting with the Korean War, was a two-generation effort as that nation evolved from a dictatorship to a prosperous democracy, and that Iraq was an even more serious and difficult situation. His argument was reminiscent of those right-wingers I often hear talking about how many years after WWII our military spent completing the pacification of Europe and Japan.

Spare me. The equations are specious. The American military after both the Korean War and WWII ended were not, by definition, engaging in armed warfare as they are in Iraq. Nor is there in Iraq, as there was in WWII, a clear enemy that can surrender, ending the conflict, or as in the case of the Korean conflict, agree to a cessation of hostilities, so the U.S. troops can be transitioned to simply a peacekeeping presence in the region.

The bogus "when [Iraqis, South Koreans, Italians, etc.] stand up, we will stand down" strategy has no logical application in Iraq. Iraqis are Sunni, Shiite, Al Qaeda, loyal to this and that sectarian leader. At present there is no recognized Iraqi identity and no central government with any significant power to enforce its will. And there is little prospect that either will emerge in the foreseeable future. The more likely scenario, if you accept the position of the chickenhawks and the 101st fighting keyboarders, is two generations of American men and women fighting and dying in a futile effort to "crush" the insurgents/terrorists in Iraq while creating exponentially more of them throughout the region and the world.

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